Reliability and Validity of the Bible Essay

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One of the most current controversial topics in modern day times is the validity of the Bible. How can one know if the content is to be trusted and is real?

As an extremely important religious text that many take to heart and live by on a day to day basis, it is imperative that the information in the Bible is reliable and true. In order to verify the validity of the information in the Bible, it is important to look into the past and study history.

Many archeologists around the world make it their goal to study the historical context of the Bible. They will dig in certain areas mentioned in order to look for tangible evidence that the places and stories mentioned in the Bible actually exist.

In recent times, some archeologists have claimed to have found the body of Jesus, his wife, and even children.[1] While this is not completely certain to be true, some archeological digs have been successful in finding cultural items dating back to biblical times and uncovering many fascinating items that match up with the Bible’s telling.[2] It is difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is being made a mockery, due to how conflicted these views are. There are books written (such as The Da Vinci Code) that include fictitious information.[3]

This information leads to questioning Christian beliefs and values. Many people who believe that the Bible’s information is not true have been led to believe that by sources outside of the Bible itself, as well as false interpretations and common misconceptions. Among these is the idea that since the Bible has been translated and is so old, it must have been mistranslated and changed. This has been proven to be false as the most current version of the Bible has been compared to the oldest manuscripts found (The Dead Sea scrolls)- and found to be nearly exactly the same.

The only real differences were majorly the style it was written in and small synonyms for words.[4] Another misconception is the belief that the Bible contradicts itself, however this remains untrue. This belief has derived from teachings in churches being preached differently. A preacher may take a sermon from the Bible and twist it into his or her own beliefs, rather than what the Bible directly says. This proves the words of the preacher to be untrue- not the Bible itself. It is because of these false interpretations of the Bible that many people do not take it seriously and believe that it is full of contradictions.

However, the information in the Bible should not be so easily discarded. This is because when certain stories or pieces are inserted into the Bible, they must first go through a series of processes called the canonization of the Bible. This is a process that took many centuries to complete by which figures determine whether the information is reliable and fits along with the other stories of the Bible.

There are four different requirements in Canonization: Clear authorship, date, general acceptance, and theological consistency.[5] These are important because with clear authorship, you can determine who the writer was and often these writers are connected somehow and mentioned elsewhere. The date is important to verify its consistency with other books of the Bible, as well as to understand the history of the time.

General acceptance of the manuscripts is also important because if it seems completely atypical of the books of the Bible, it should not be included. Lastly, theological consistency is extremely important because it is where the “contradictions” come in. If the books of the Bible were not consistent with each other and other information known, it would not be included and therefore the Bible cannot contradict itself.

In historical documents, there are many cases where much of the information matches up to the same history written in the Bible. This has shown in the case of even the earliest known works of literature. For instance, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, part of the main story includes a rather large flood that is detrimental to the world.

This same flood is spoken of in the Bible in one of the more commonly known stories- Noah’s Ark. In Noah’s Ark, there is a great flood and Noah must build a boat in order to save the animals as well as his family. This storyline is parallel to that of Gilgamesh’s story. In actual historical documents, there have also been references made to Biblical characters and events.

A first century Jewish historian named Flavius Josephus specifically referenced Biblical characters such as James, Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist.[6] Ancient Roman history also includes references to gospels and certain history that is recorded in the Bible such as rivers, mountains, wars, treaties, and certain kings.[7] In Ancient Israel history, there is documented that the same customs and beliefs were practiced as written in the Bible and sightings of these specific Biblical characters are also documented.[8]

With archeology, ancient manuscripts, ancient history, and the process of canonization, it is hard for a book in the Bible to be completely inaccurate and inconsistent. Since there are so many processes a book must go through before it is even accepted into a Bible, it is almost certain that the information in the Bible is indeed reliable and should be considered holy material.

The fact that these manuscripts of the Bible remain unchanged after such a long period of time shows that nothing has been severely altered and remains true. Instead of critically analyzing every piece of the Bible trying to look for flaws and contradictions, it is imperative to understand that this is a religious and historical text. It is not meant to prove itself or to explain why certain events may have happened- it is meant to be a Christian’s guide to God. Bibliography:

• De, Vaux Roland. Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1965. Print.

• New American Standard Bible. Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, for the Lockman Foundation, 1997. Print.

• Eichman, Phillip. “Helpful Resources on the Reliability of the Bible – Does God Exist? – MarApr08.” Does God Exist? Web. 04 Oct. 2011. .

• “Biblical Archaeology Research.” Associates for Biblical Research. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. .

• “Authenticity of the Bible.” Evidence for God from Science. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. .

• Boa, Kenneth. “The Reliability of the Bible | – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site.” Free NET Bible and Thousands of Bible Studies | – Worlds Largest Bible Study Site. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. .

• “Bible Study: How the Books of the Bible Were Chosen.” Global Ministries – General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church. Web. 04 Oct. 2011.

• Steger, Gary K. “Canonization.” GPS 110 Lecture. Hayes Building, Wingate. 30 Aug. 2011. Lecture.

[1] Eichman, Phillip. Does God Exist?
[2] Ibid, Eichman.
[3] Ibid, Eichman.
[4] Boa, Kenneth. “The Reliability of the Bible”
[5] Steger, Gary K. “Canonization.”
[6] Boa, Kenneth. “The Reliability of the Bible”
[7] Ibid, Boa.
[8] De, Vaux Roland. Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions. Print.

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